Young Billy makes impressive debut in senior cricket for Topsham St James

PUBLISHED: 11:07 13 June 2019

This clever little dog found the ball at Clyst St George 1st team at home to Honiton 1sts. Ref exsp 24 19TI 6445. Picture: Terry Ife

This clever little dog found the ball at Clyst St George 1st team at home to Honiton 1sts. Ref exsp 24 19TI 6445. Picture: Terry Ife

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Ten-man Topsham St James 2nd XI banked a maximum 20 points from their XI travelled with some trepidation to table-topping Kilmington, but a superb team performance brought a well-deserved victory, writes Mike Tracey.

Picture: ThinkstockPicture: Thinkstock

After being invited to bat first, Topsham openers Mike Tracey and Mark Ross recorded only one-third of their combined ages, but it was enough to get the innings off to a good start, with 40 on the board before Tracey was dismissed for 19.

Nick McAleer (25) helped Ross add another 45, before a mid-innings wobble saw three wickets go down for the addition of just 19 runs.

Rhys Norman again showed his batting potential, before Ross, a makeshift opener, who normally bats in the (very) lower order, finally went for an invaluable career-best 45.

That paved the way for 13-year-old Billy Knightley, making his debut in adult cricket, and his first act was to be involved in the unfortunate run-out of Norman for 14!

That was though, the only sign of nerves from young Knightley who played some delightful shots in what was eventually a fine unbeaten 29 from just 15 deliveries faced! Indeed, Knightley would undoubtedly have scored more had he been able to wrestle more of the strike from the Purchall brothers.

Jack, of that ilk, smashed two sixes, one of which ended up in the adjacent church car park, on his way to a quick-fire 24, only to be outdone by brother Will, whose 28 not out off 18 balls included three sixes as Topsham St James closed on 209-8.

The pick of the Kilmington bowlers was young Cornick, who picked up 3-39 in his eight overs, although veteran Mike Summers opened with an economical spell of eight overs which cost only 21. Skipper Craig Seward took 2-20, but the other wicket-taker, Rex Helston, took the brunt of the late assault, and his two wickets cost him 76 runs. The bowlers were let down by some fallible fielding, which saw the dropping of four easy chances, for which the Topsham batsmen were duly grateful.

In past seasons Topsham's own fielding has often been dismal, but the 2019 model is very different, and they made life hard for the home batsmen.

Martin Huscroft looked very dangerous, hitting a rapid 23, and threatening to take apart the bowling of 15-year-old Rhys Norman.

Young Norman however, showed his character by coming back strongly, bowling Huscroft with a perfect yorker.

After that, Kilmington were always chasing the run-rate, and, although five batsmen got into the 20s, nobody could go on to produce a match-winning innings and the home team were eventually bowled out for 178.

Topsham used seven bowlers, each one of whom took at least one wicket, including the only three failed batsmen - Dan Thornhill, Charlie Ferraro and Neil Shillabeeer - making it a truly team performance.

Neil Shillabeer was the pick, with 2-26, and he also captained superbly, despite never before having done the job at any level of cricket.

Topsham St James 2nd XI, still unbeaten, took a full 20 points from the game, leap-frogging Kilmington and they now sit second behind new leaders Sidbury.

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